With many parents working full time, day care is a booming business. Individual states typically set the minimum educational requirements for day care jobs. Some positions require a high school diploma, while others require a college degree. In Head Start programs, federal law requires employees to work toward an educational credential or an associate degree. The pay for day care employees depends on the job title, type of program and location.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' childcare worker category includes employees who attend to children at schools, businesses, private households and childcare institutions. These workers typically perform tasks such as supervising play activities and helping children with personal care, including feeding and dressing. The BLS reports that childcare workers employed at child day care services earned average wages of $9.40 per hour or $19,560 per year as of May 2011. The day care industry had 286,250 such jobs at the time of the survey.
Teacher assistants at companies that provide child day care services averaged $21,290 per year as of May 2011, according to the BLS. The minimum educational requirement for a teacher assistant in day care is often a high school diploma, but some jobs require an associate degree or two years of post-secondary education. Day care workers with this job title do actual teaching, but only under the supervision of a teacher.
Preschool teachers in all types of programs averaged $14.50 per hour or $30,150 annually in 2011, reports the BLS. Nearly two-thirds of these jobs were in child day care services, where teachers earned an average of $26,300 per year. In programs associated with elementary and secondary schools, preschool teachers averaged $43,130 per year, while social services programs paid an average of $29,340 annually. Religious organizations paid their preschool teachers an average of $31,740 per year. Teaching positions in preschools and day care centers usually require early childhood education certification. Some jobs require an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field.
Top States for Preschool Teacher Pay
The BLS provides a breakdown by states for preschool teaching salaries overall. It reports that the highest-paying state in 2011 was New York at an average of $39,560 per year. New Jersey was next at $37,370, followed by Alaska at $35,120.
Employees who direct or plan day care and preschool programs received average annual pay of $51,290 in 2011, according to the BLS. The highest-paid 10 percent of administrators earned $85,550 per year or more, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned $27,720 or less. Administrators at providers of child day care services averaged $45,100 per year. The highest-paid administrators worked in programs tied to colleges and universities, averaging $98,400 per year. New York was the top-paying state for preschool administrators, with salaries averaging $67,360 per year.
The BLS expects the number of jobs for all childcare workers to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Preschool teachers should experience an increase of 25 percent. The same growth rate is predicted for directors of preschools and day care centers. A strong national focus on early education and the large number of working parents will contribute to demand in this industry.